Center for Nonprofit Excellence
LEAD Institute

LEAD Institute


LEAD (Leadership Education and Development) Institute is a year-long leadership development program for nonprofit managers aspiring to greater leadership. LEAD serves the diverse communities of Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties. Since it began in 2009, more than 180 leaders representing 130 nonprofits have completed the program.

LEAD Institute

2023 Institute

LEAD 2022 Flyer Image

Invest in yourself and your community: LEAD is growing the next generation of nonprofit leadership! 

The Community Foundation for Monterey County is currently accepting applications for the 2023 LEAD Institute, a year-long professional development program for nonprofits serving the diverse communities of Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties. 

The 2023 LEAD Institute is designed to nurture and empower leaders to thrive in our current climate of uncertainty, recovery, and possibility.

Applications to attend LEAD 2023 are now closed. Complete this interest form for future updates about LEAD!

Values & Commitments

LEAD Institute is committed to building an inclusive and equitable teaching community where LEADers identify core values, share resources, and cultivate a supportive network for leadership growth and mission impact. 

LEADers commit to ten intensive, day-long monthly seminars for leadership growth and reflection at the beautiful Harden Foundation in Salinas, and experience six months of individualized, one-on-one coaching with a professional coach. 


LEADers graduate from the program ready to take on greater leadership and thrive. LEAD can help you:

  • Identify your core values and connect with a diverse and inspiring peer network. 
  • Learn from experts in our community and explore topics related to power, collaboration, and justice. 
  • Develop nonprofit management skills and better understand how organizations function. 
  • Grow your mission impact and work for change. 

Ivan MezaPrior to being part of LEAD, I often struggled with my confidence as a leader. Through the support of my coach as well as my LEAD cohort, not only have I learned to collaborate with other nonprofits, but I have also learned to be more involved and confident in my job decision making as a leader. Ivan Meza, Avenues Program Coordinator, Community Connection

Why LEAD? –  for Your Organization

  • Make an organizational commitment to invest in your great staff and empower their growth. 
  • Meet new partners and build support networks. 
  • Build capacity in key areas including supervision, collaboration, fund development, financial management, and more. 

Rob RappLEAD has expanded our LEADer’s skill set and willingness to try new things which in turn has expanded her job scope further than we had initially imagined. – Rob Rapp, former Development Director, Community Human Services and LEAD Alum


The Community Foundation Santa Cruz County and the Community Foundation for San Benito County partner with the Community Foundation for Monterey County to ensure strong participation from all three counties.


2023 LEAD Institute

LEAD 2019

LEAD Institute is committed to building an inclusive and equitable teaching community where LEADers identify core values, share resources, and cultivate a supportive network for leadership growth and mission impact. 

LEAD is an intensive learning experience, and support from your non-profit or community-based organization and supervisors is essential. 

Leadership Coaching

LEADers experience six months of individualized, one-on-one coaching session with a professional coach to set goals and discover leadership strengths. 


Having a coach dedicated to challenging me on my issues, celebrating my successes and helping brainstorm through problems was a powerful step in my evolution as a leader. 2011 LEAD participant

Seminar Dates & Time Commitment

LEADers commit to ten intensive, day-long, in-person monthly seminars at Harden Foundation in Salinas from February to December 2023. LEADers should expect to devote 2-3 additional hours each month for coaching, reflection, and self-directed preparatory work for LEAD.

LEAD 2023 Dates 

Feb. 10, 2023 

Mar. 10 

Apr. 14 

May 12 

Jun. 9 

Jul. 14 

Aug. 11 

Sept. 8 

Oct. 13 

Nov. 3 

Dec. 8 

Attendance at seminars is essential. Successful completion of sessions and assignments by December 2023 and the ability to demonstrate integration of content areas in professional life and leadership qualify you for a LEAD Certificate of Completion.


Apply to LEAD 2023 – Applications closed

Apply Online2023 LEAD applications closed on October 1st.

We recommend you discuss your goals and the commitment required to attend LEAD with your direct supervisor and/or affiliated community organizations. Nonprofits based in Santa Cruz, Monterey or San Benito Counties are eligible. LEAD Institute will accept one applicant per organization. 

If you are interested in updates on applying for future LEAD sessions, complete a brief Interest Form and we will stay in touch with you about future Institutes. Please also see this list of other Leadership Programs. 

LEAD SupervisorI first decided to send an employee to LEAD because I noticed key leadership qualities: she’s smart, talented and has a strong work ethic. LEAD Institute is building on those qualities while developing new leadership skills that will benefit her and most importantly, the children and families served by Jacob’s Heart. A sound investment…now and in the future. Lori Butterworth, then-ED of Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Support Services

Application and Selection Criteria

Successful candidates demonstrate:

  • Integrity, critical thinking, and a commitment to life-long learning 
  • Interest in taking on greater leadership in the next 18 months 
  • Support from their organization or community group 
  • Experience supervising others or the desire to gain management skills 
  • Investment in community 

Tuition and Partial Scholarships

We are committed to working with all accepted applicants and their organizations to coordinate tuition funding.

Organization Budget Size LEAD Tuition
All-volunteer organizations $1,000
< $500,000 $1,500
$500-999,999 $1,800
$1M-$5M $2,100
>$5M $2,400

The Community Foundation for Monterey County understands the unique financial circumstances of each LEAD participant and nonprofit organization. We encourage all who could benefit from LEAD Institute to apply. Tuition is sliding-scale and need-based scholarships are available. LEAD Institute will accept one applicant per organization. 


LEAD Participants and Alumni

LEAD Institute is an opportunity to engage with a dynamic and inspiring network of alumni in Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz Counties. 

 Activities help alumni to stay connected, continue learning, and renew energy for leadership growth. 

 Recent alumni activities include: reunions by class, professional development and peer coaching. 

LEAD AlumThe new tools and support network of other leaders helps me feel consistently hopeful even through challenging times. – Mireya Gomez-Contreras, Arts Council of Santa Cruz County

2022 LEAD Institute participants

Monterey County

Amy Wright, Director of Operations, Gateway Center of Monterey 

Andrea Tinajero, Agriculture Education Program Manager, ALBA 

Erin Lyman, Community Engagement Manager, Arts Council for Monterey County

Chris Graveline, Directory of Recovery Services in South County, Sun Street Centers

Jeff Hinderscheid, Executive Director, Sol Treasures 

Jennifer Hazen, Program Officer II, Community Human Services Off Main Clinic 

Jennifer Suttie, Program Coordinator II – Grants, Monterey County Office of Education 

Natalie Herendeen, Executive Director, Center for Community Advocacy 

Victoria Jimenez, Associate Program Director Sunflower Gardens, Interim Inc. 

San Benito and Santa Cruz County

Hayley Mears, Workforce Development Program Manager, Health Improvement Partnership of Santa Cruz 

Rodrigo Jimenez, Associate Director, Justice & Leadership, Youth Alliance 

Monterey County Nonprofits & Alumni

  • 2nd Chance Family and Youth Services (Laura Tinajero)
  • Access Support Network (Daniela Mejia & Paris De La Rosa)
  • Ag Land Trust (Virginia Jameson)
  • Alliance on Aging (Jody Rogers)
  • Alisal Center for the Fine Arts (Willow Aray & Juan Carlos Gonzalez)
  • ARIEL Theatrical (Samantha Barnes)
  • Arts Council for Monterey County (Berniz House)
  • Building Healthy Communities – East Salinas (Carmen Gil)
  • California Breastfeeding Coalition (Robbie Gonzalez-Dow)
  • Camp SEA Lab (Amity Wood)
  • The Carmel Foundation (Aimee Cuda, Kimberly Willison)
  • CASA of Monterey County (Teressa Jimenez)
  • Central Coast HIV/AIDS Services (Katie Murphy)
  • Central Coast YMCA: South County Branch (Leti Bocanegra)
  • CHISPA (Jonathan Bohorquez, Ruth Rodriguez)
  • CSUMB (Rene Casas)
  • Coalition of Homeless Services Providers (Jocelyn Brady)
  • Community Foundation for Monterey County (Aurelio Salazar, Jr.)
  • Community Human Services (Lenina Sanchez, Rob Rapp & Valerie Catania)
  • Community Partnership for Youth (Benjamin Bruce)
  • Door to Hope (Denise Felix, Patterson Emesibe)
  • Environmental Justice Coalition for Water (May Nguyen & Vicente Lara)
  • Everyone’s Harvest (Iris Diana Jehle-Peppard)
  • Family Connections – MPUSD/First 5 (Jan Phillips Paulsen)
  • First 5 Monterey County (David Dobrowski)
  • First Methodist Church in Salinas (Cindy Storrs)
  • Food Bank for Monterey County (Melissa Hartman)
  • Goodwill Central Coast (Richard Cheatham)
  • Hartnell College Foundation (Priscilla Amao)
  • HOPE Services (Greg Dinsmore)
  • Housing Resource Center of Monterey County (Jennifer Rego)
  • INTERIM, INC (Idalia Matthews, Alejandro Amezcua, Carolina Cortez, Christina Barnes, Carmen Torres, Lara Stahl, Lisa Corpuz, Judith Gonzalez & Maritza Allen)
  • iResult, LLC (Niña Magsaysay Rosete)
  • Legal Services for Seniors (Philip M. Geiger)
  • The Literacy Campaign for Monterey County (M. Crystal Macias-Diaz)
  • Loaves Fishes & Computers, Inc. (Elizabeth Panetta)
  • Lyceum (Joyce Breckenridge)
  • Mandell Gisnet Center for Conflict Management (Isabel Bjork)
  • Meals on Wheels of the Salinas Valley, Inc. (Claudia Aguilera)
  • MEarth (Juliet Pool)
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium (Ava Ferguson & Ileana Ortega Brunetti, Jennifer Rigney)
  • Monterey County Office of Education Head Start and Early Head Start (Isabel Valtierra)
  • Monterey County Rape Crisis Center (Nina Alcaraz)
  • Osio Theater (Brandi Lamb)
  • Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History (Ann Wasser)
  • Parents’ Place, Pacific Grove Adult School, PGUSD (Elizabeth Olney)
  • Partnership for Children (Jennifer Ramirez)
  • Peacock Acres (Nathan Jones)
  • Point Lobos Foundation (Anna Patterson)
  • Rancho Cielo Youth Campus, Inc. (Cecilia Romero, Trish Alcocer)
  • Restorative Justice Partners, Inc. (Jennie Burciaga)
  • Return of the Natives Restoration and Education Project (Emily Howard)
  • The Salvation Army, Service Extension (Amelia Gomez)
  • Shelter Outreach Plus (Leticia Bejarano)
  • Soledad Unified School District (Cristina Sotelo)
  • Special Kids Crusade (Laura Harris)
  • Sun Street Centers (John Bokanovich, Marciano Huerta & Eddie Hathcock)
  • Turning Point of Central California (Pearl Sanchez)
  • United Way Monterey County (Clare Margason, Kate Mitchell Mehle & Mayra Perez)
  • Volunteer Center (Gilda Estrada)
  • Youth Music Monterey County (Vanisha Evans Douvon)
  • Youth Orchestra Salinas (Michael Gomez)
  • YWCA Monterey County (Germaine Esquivel)

San Benito County Nonprofits & Alumni

  • BenitoLink (Laura Romero)
  • CASA of San Benito County (Esther Curtice)
  • Chamberlain’s Children Center, Inc. (Krystal Jones, Gracie Lucatero & Patrick Ellis)
  • Community Foundation for San Benito County (Salina Chacon and Raul Ceja)
  • Community Solutions (Vanessa Garcia)
  • Community Vision San Benito Co. (Colleen Johnson)
  • Emmaus House (Mary Lou Coffelt)
  • Hollister Youth Alliance (Zenedith Espinoza)
  • Pinnacles Partnership (Rochelle Fischer)
  • San Benito County Farm Bureau (Mindy Sotelo)
  • United Way of San Benito (Vicki Fortino)

Santa Cruz County Nonprofits & Alumni

  • Arts Council Santa Cruz County (Megan Searcy & Nabil Ghachem)
  • Break Away College Access Project (Carol Schimke)
  • Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music (Jessica Frye)
  • Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County Inc. (Juan Luis Romero, Mireya Gomez-Contreras)
  • Community Restoration Project (Javier Diaz)
  • The Shelter Project (Norma Sanchez)
  • Community Alliance with Family Farmers (Kathryn Spencer)
  • Community Bridges
    • Beach Flats Community Center (Reyna Ruiz)
    • La Manzana Community Resources (­­­Gabriela López Chávez)
  • Creative Muse Collective (Terri Steinmann)
  • Easter Seals Central California (Stephanie Flores & Stella Lauerman)
  • El Pajaro CDC (Amy Mascareñas)
  • Encompass Community Services (Maria Sanchez & Leigh Guerrero)
  • Habitat for Humanity Monterey Bay (Beth Bowman)
  • Homeless Garden Project (Darrie Ganzhorn)
  • Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Support Services (Alexandra Dami)
  • Mesa Verde Gardens (Ana Rasmussen)
  • Museo Eduardo Carillo (Betsy Andersen)
  • Pajaro Valley Arts Council (Norma Villaron)
  • Pajaro Valley Prevention and Student Assistance, Inc. (Silvia Diaz)
  • Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County (Lea Haratani)
  • Salud Para La Gente (Iliana Cuadros, Dail Vannerus, Michelle De Anda, Rosalba Contreras, Rachel Sandobal & Theresa Merendon)
  • Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History (Diana Kapsner)
  • Save Our Shores (Ginaia Kelly)
  • Tandy Beal & Company (Jennifer Radakovich)
  • Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County
    • Community Connection (Ivan Meza, Maribel Alvarez, Mark Vasquez, Jodie Wells, Salina Nevarez & Uriel Mendoza)
  • Watsonville Film Festival (Consuelo Alba-Speyer)
  • Watsonville Science Workshop (Darren Gertler)
  • The Watsonville Law Center (Adriana Melgoza, Monica Pereira & Henry Martin)
  • Watsonville Volunteer Center (Blanca Carrillo)
  • Watsonville Wetlands Watch (Jonathan Pilch)
  • Women’s Crisis Support – Defensa de Mujeres (Lucila Sanchez)
  • YWCA of Watsonville (Emelia Leon)